I have been supervising “Bill” for over a year and have had him on strong corrective action plans the entire time. I want to be firm and clear when I inform him that he has to show immediate improvement or his employment will terminate. In other words, we have reached the end of the rope. I am uncomfortable presenting this ultimatum because I am afraid that my discomfort will look like weakness. Don’t you think it will be best if I give “Bill” his final warning via e-mail rather than face-to-face?
Dear Uncomfortable –
Let me rephrase that. Hell no.
I have said this before and I will probably say it again – you are a SUPERVISOR. So SUPERVISE. Take a deep breath, memorize your lines and have that conversation in person. Giving such news in an e-mail message is chicken and insults the employee.
— Evil Skippy
I agree with Evil Skippy’s advice. This news needs to be given in person and then documented. (Take another look at my advice about documentation, here.) You could use an e-mail message as that documentation.
After respect for the employee, a second reason this news should be delivered in person is the fact that the tone of e-mail communications is notoriously misinterpreted. According to a University of Chicago study, readers correctly interpret the tone of emails only a little over 50 percent of the time – yet 90 percent of readers believe they correctly interpret the email’s tone. At the same time, 80 percent of writers think the tone will be clear.